ALTON - As the entire St. Louis metropolitan and Metro-East areas prepare to celebrate what will be a Thanksgiving holiday unlike any other in the last century, the TorHoerman Law Firm continued its tradition by holding its seventh annual turkey giveaway on Saturday on the parking lot of the Liberty Bank Amphitheater on the Alton riverfront.
The firm started its giveaway in 2014 when it learned that 12 percent of Madison County families had difficulty in having consistent meals, and teamed up with various businesses to make sure those families in need were able to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. This year, TorHoerman was able to get together with Source Juicery, Robert "Chick" Fritz Inc., Metro By T-Mobile, the CliftonLarsonAllen LLP law firm and the Madison County Urban League to help provide the turkeys needed.
The turkeys were kept refrigerated in trucks provided by Robert "Chick" Fritz Inc., who is the local distributor for Miller Beer and its products, and the turkey and fixings were distributed into cars' trunks in order to keep social distancing rules because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Long lines of cars were the rule, and the event was a resounding success.
"Today is the annual turkey giveaway, put on by TorHoerman Law Firm, and we are just one of the sponsors that help provide transportation to refrigeration to bring the turkeys to the pick-up point to here," said Anne Fritz, vice president of Robert "Chick" Fritz Distributing, "where everyone can come through the line and pick up their turkeys. It is 600 turkeys this year, so it fills up over four bays in one of our route trucks of cold refrigeration. So that is a lot of turkeys," Fritz said with a laugh.
The site of the giveaway was also changed because of the pandemic, but it didn't hinder the success of this year's event.
"Normally, we're at the Salvation Army center up here in Alton," Fritz said, "but due to COVID, and the year of pivoting in and trying to make everything work as best we can, we moved it down to the old amphitheater. And yes, this is a large turnout, not knowing what to expect with a change of venue in a way, you don't know how it will turn out. But overall, the amount of people showing up is pretty amazing. And to kind of help spread a little cheer this holiday season, when everybody has had a super bad and tough year, it's kind of nice to watch people come through, smile and bring joy for at least one day out of this crazy year."
The giveaway also is a part of the Fritz distributing company's philosophy of helping to give back to the community.
"We just like being part of the community," said Robert "Chick" Fritz senior chief brand ambassador Dave Benton, "and this helps so many in the community, and thank you to TorHoerman for putting this on for I forget how many years he's been doing it now. And we've been a part of it for a while, providing the transportation and the refrigeration, and it just makes you feel good to see so many smiling faces coming through the lines, and people that are really in need of this stuff."
The giveaway is a prime example of the holiday spirit, especially in the face of the pandemic that has caused so much chaos and uncertainty this year.
"Well, if I think this summarizes what the holidays should be about, especially this year, this starts the holidays," said Alton Mayor Brant Walker, also referring to the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony held the night before. "We want to thank the TorHoerman Law Firm for sponsoring this, given the situation this year and the pandemic. As you can see the lines of cars, this is definitely needed this year. It's a pleasure for me to be out there to help people in need, and there are a lot of people in need this year. So, it's a tremendous time of the year, and a very difficult year."
Fritz enjoys helping out the community, and she feels that helping out in her community is a very important part of the company and its core values.
"I love helping out and giving back," Fritz said. "I feel like community and everything we do is a cornerstone of the community. We live, work and eat in this community, and anything I can do to help out, it makes me feel great. We have a bunch of people from our company here, who are helping out today, and I can tell by the looks on their face, they're all smiling. It feels good to actually help somebody else out, and especially during the holiday season. Everybody enjoys the holidays; we want to make sure that everybody's holiday is just as enjoyable as the next person."
Fritz uses a quote from her grandfather, who founded the company, to illustrate her commitment to helping out and doing good things for the local community.
"Anytime you can do anything for the community is good," Fritz said. "I just love to use the quote from my grandpa, Robert "Chick" Fritz, Inc.; we're a family-run business, third generation. And when I was a little girl, I used to ask my grandpa why we used to do all this for the community. He's like, to be honest, he goes, 'the community will only be as good as what we put back into it.' I take a day like today as the pinnacle of what he meant by that. So giving back is just a small portion of really kind of bringing the community back up, and keeping everything positive in a very terrible time we're all living in."